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Saturday, 20 November 2004

Jesus And Nollywood

One finger one thumb one arm one leg keep moving…Our taxi races from the border and screeches into Livingstone at about two minutes after nine. There is a coach there for Lusaka, but the ticket office tells us it is full. The next coach doesn’t leave until one o’clock, so it will be a bit of a hot wait. While The Husband is purchasing the tickets a man tries to put our luggage on board the coach that is already there. I explain that there are no seats and we can’t get tickets. He tuts and runs over to the ticket office. Apparently there are spare seats. He wrenches my luggage from me while The Husband returns the tickets and gets new ones. We board the coach…and there are no seats. Frankly I’m happy to stand for six hours up to Lusaka rather than wait another four in the hot sun in Livingstone but they are having none of it. They consult their ticket book, their clipboards, each other, shouting and waving. They demand to see everyone’s tickets again. Finally The Husband is directed to sit next to the driver, and a seat is miraculously found for me at the back. We pull off.

They start to show a film, from Nigeria. I believe the industry there is called Nollywood. I’ve never seen a Nigerian film before, but I was subjected to watching the same one three times in a row on that journey. It was a bit like singalong Sound of Music – everyone knew all the words by the final showing. If you’ve never seen a product of Nollywood, don’t bother. Unless you are completely whacked out of your mind on drink or drugs, in which case it might be funny. I wouldn’t know, I was sober on the bus. It struck me as the kind of film-making Quentin Tarantino would hail as ‘classic’. I think Quentin Tarantino is a knob.

Why were they showing this thing on loop? Even some crappy music would be better. Or so I thought. After showing number three we had Enrique Iglesias on cassette. On loop. After a while ‘you can run you can hide but you can’t escape my love’ started to sound suspiciously like ‘you can cringe you can writhe but you can’t escape this bus’. No kidding. I had wanted the film to go away. Now I wanted Enrique to go away. He did. He was replaced by Jesus. It was truly the Coach of Torture. We were next subjected to a tape of some American ‘minister’ preaching and singing along with his banjo. I had to listen to him yammer on about how people shouldn’t worry about AIDS or Cancer because God would cure everything, la la la la la. I mean COME ON! I’m working with people living/dying with AIDS. They need retrovirals, not some bearded guy in a dress.

We got some respite from Minister Banjo at the ‘rest stop’. This is where everyone else gets off the coach and runs to the fast food stall. I can’t eat on coaches, it makes me sick. When they reloaded everyone around me was waving big fat greasy saveloy sausages. Bleurgh!

The next stop was to be sprayed with noxious chemicals. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently there is an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Zambia. I’ve been through these checkpoints in Europe, and they usually make you wipe your feet and drive your vehicle through a puddle of something. Not here. The coach trundled along happily while we were all forced off in single file to queue up to have our hands sprayed. It took about ten minutes in the blazing heat. It felt like being on a chain gang or something. We all got back on, only to have to repeat the procedure about a kilometre down the road. And again a kilometre after that. Hold on folks, you still look healthy, we need to really hose you down with some poisonous stuff just to make sure. I’m not sure I have any fingerprints left, so if anyone out there needs a robbery doin’, just let me know.